Legal restrictions

1. Acquisition of immovable property by foreign persons/companies.

Are there any legal restrictions that affect a foreign citizen wishing to purchase an immoveable property? Does nationality play a role at all?

Are any permits required by a foreign citizen wishing to purchase a real estate property?  Are these matters covered by the Land Registry Procedure?

Nationality no longer plays a role in land registration as there is no legal restriction that prevents or imposes additional requirements on a foreign citizen on the purchase of an immoveable property.

The obligations arising under the Criminal Justice Act, 1994 must be complied with i.e. solicitors are under a statutory obligation, by virtue of Section 32 that Act, as amended, [enacted to deter money laundering] to take reasonable measures to establish the identity of any person for whom they propose to provide specified services.

In relation to the registration of foreign companies, there are certain requirements that must be met for registration pursuant to Land Registration Rules. Under Irish law, a company executes a deed in writing under seal and in accordance with its powers under its Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Other jurisdictions do not have a requirement for execution of a deed under company seal.

In such cases, the Property Registration Authority requires evidence from a lawyer in the jurisdiction in which the company was registered, that the deed was executed in accordance with the legal requirements governing execution of the instrument in question by such a body corporate, in the jurisdiction where it was incorporated and that is empowered to do so under its formation documents.

If an application is a personal application (i.e. not lodged by a solicitor), the Authority has certain requirements for proof of identity.

The Property Registration Authority will accept for registration a document which complies strictly with its legislation Registration of Titles Act, 1964-2006 and Land Registration Rules 1972-2009.

2. Acquisition of agricultural land: restrictions and limitations.

Are there any legal restrictions that affect a foreign citizen wishing to purchase an agricultural property? Is there any kind of limitation?

Are any permits required by a foreign citizen wishing to purchase an agricultural property? Are these matters covered by the Land Registry Procedure?

Are any permits required by a domestic citizen wishing to purchase an agricultural property?

The same applies i.e. there are no restrictions. Prior to the Land Act 2005, certain restrictions in relation to the purchase of agricultural lands applied (unless the purchaser was a citizen of a Member State or a body corporate of the European Communities or other European State which is a contracting party to the European Economic Area Agreement) on the acquisition of agricultural lands, but this restriction was repealed by the 2005 Act.

3. Acquisition of flat property: legal restrictions.

With regard to the purchase of flat property, are there any legal restrictions, such as approval by other apartment owners or by the management company responsible for the relevant property (stipulated in the statutes for example)? Are these matters covered by the Land Registry Procedure?

The acquisition of flats/apartments is subject to the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 which was signed into law on 1st April 2011 (S.I. 97/2011).[1] Again these matters are dealt with at contract stage and prior to completion of a purchase (i.e. prior to the lodgement of the deed of transfer in the Land Registry or where the property comprises unregistered land, prior to lodgement of the deed of conveyance in the Registry of Deeds).

The Land Registry has certain requirements which must be met in respect of the map lodged for registration which must comply with Land Registration Rules.

4. Acquisition of immovable property in special areas (such as on the coast or near military-related sites or in national parks, in the mountains, etc.)

Is a permit required for the acquisition of real estate property in special areas (such as on the coast or near military-related sites or in national parks, mountains, etc.)? Is this part of the Land Registry Procedure?

Issues in relation to planning or protected areas are dealt with by the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government. Each local authority deals with applications for planning. The three key roles are set out below:

The physical planning system plays a key role in facilitating delivery of the infrastructure programmes and in addressing housing supply requirements.

Local authorities and An Bord Pleanála (Planning Board) directly operate the system.  The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s primary role is to provide the essential legislative framework and policy guidance while seeking to minimise the regulatory burden and cost of the system.

In addition, that Department provides an expert advisory service on heritage/conservation issues to planning authorities and to An Bord Pleanála.

The National Spatial Strategy (NSS) 2002-2020 is the national strategic planning framework to achieve a better balance of social, economic and physical development across Ireland, supported by more effective planning.  It recognises that regions of the country have different roles and seeks to organise and coordinate these roles in a complementary way making all regions more competitive according to their strengths.

It seeks also to promote a high quality urban environment, as well as vibrant rural areas.  The National Development Plan (NDP) 2007-2013 underpins the NSS objectives.

This matter is dealt with by searches with the local authority at contract stage and is not a Land Registry matter. There may in the future, be provision for the entry of a notice of existence of special areas of conservation on the Land Registry Map which may assist at investigation of title stage.

5. Acquisition of immovable property and listed monuments and memorials.

Is a special permit required for the acquisition of monuments or listed buildings?

Is this part of the Land Registry Procedure?

Ownership of the rights of the State in national monuments is covered by the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004 and also under the Planning and Development Acts 2000 as amended.

There is provision for the registration of a burden on the land registry title (folio) under the Registration of Title Act 1964-2006 (Section 69(1) (r)) e.g. preservation orders, appointment of local authority as guardian of historic monuments.

The Commissioner of Public Works is obliged to publish notices and establish and maintain registers of historic monuments.

All of these matters are pre-contract and enquiries and not matters for the Land Registry unless the burden is registered under Section 69 of the Registration of Title Act, 1964.

6. Planning Code and legal restrictions (pre-emption right; approval by the municipality or other authorities; splitting a land parcel).

Do your municipalities or the government have a special pre-emption right to property (i.e. a right of first option for the sale of a real estate property)? Does land division require a special permit?

Are these matters covered by the Land Registry Procedure?

Land may be compulsorily purchased by local government by compulsory purchase order, for example, for road widening schemes.

Local authorities have certain powers, duties and obligations for property within the authority’s area (such as obligations for derelict sites etc).

Enquiries as to any notices published notices or plans can be checked with the local authority.

There is provision for registration of prohibition notes as a burden on the register which would put a purchaser on notice of any registered restriction (such as land previously purchased through a local authority which may be subject to certain restrictions for a period of time e.g. must be used as private dwelling etc and/or cannot be sold or mortgaged without the consent of the authority for a set period of years).

There are many different types of prohibition notes that may be entered on the register that are apparent from inspection of the register, but off register  enquiries must be made in relation to planning.

7. Land given by the municipality to domestic inhabitants: legal restrictions?.

Does your national law have a so-called local residents model, i.e. the allocation of land by the municipality under the condition that the buyer is obliged to keep the land and not to move away for a specific number of years?

Certain local authorities have placed restrictions such as a local resident’s model and each local authority differs in that regard and those restrictions can last for a certain number of years.

The local authority may also refuse planning permission for one off development e.g. where a person wishes to build a one off house. Planning may be granted for cluster type development only.

These are matters to be checked with the local authority in the area. Certain covenants and conditions in relation to use of a property may be registered as burdens and an inspection of the folio will show if there are covenants and conditions registered on the title.

A further check of the instrument (to see the nature of the covenants and conditions) is required and this procedure would necessitate the consent of the registered owner or his/her solicitor or special circumstances as to why the instrument to be inspected should be shown.

8. Acquisition of immovable property and tax affairs.

Must the transfer tax be paid before or after the registration in the land register? Can the Land Registry carry out the real estate property registration without a certification from the tax office?

The tax on the purchase of a property is stamp duty and must be paid, unless the property is deemed exempt and the certificate of exemption included in the body of the deed.

The duty is paid after the deed is executed and submitted to the State Taxation Agency i.e. the Revenue Commissioners for stamping which is carried out electronically, and only then can the deed be produced for registration.

The deed will not be accepted for registration unless accompanied by a certificate from the revenue commissioners or the deed has an appropriate exemption clause included.

9. Destination of the land parcel and legal restrictions.

Does your national law have special legal restrictions that are already apparent from the description of the land parcel?

I am unsure as to what you require here. The description of the land parcel is contained at part 1 of the folio (written description) and inspection of the filed plan (map). Inspection of the folio will show the ownership of the property (Part 2) and any burdens over that property (Part 3) which are capable of registration (such as charges, rights of way, rights of residence etc).The description of the property (on Part 1) will usually include a mines and minerals note (i.e. these vest in the State unless title to them has been shown otherwise).

The requirement of family home/shared home legislation must be met at investigation of title stage and registration will proceed on foot of documents lodged unless a burden is registered putting the Authority on notice of any family proceedings in being.

If legal proceedings are in being in respect of the property or a person/body corporate has an interest requiring protection, there is a mechanism for registering a caution or inhibition to protect that right on the folio at Part 2 which would allow for notice to issue should an application for registration be lodged.

Note however that there are other burdens which effect without registration under Section 72 of the Registration of Title Acts 1964 and enquiries as to Section 72 burdens are part of the investigation of title process.

10. Any other legal, very specific restrictions.

Does your national law have other, very specific legal restrictions that the Land Registry must observe?

Registration is made under the Registration of Title Act, 1964-2006 and Land Registration Rules 1972-2011.

An application for registration must meet the requirement of the Acts and be in the appropriate form under Land Registration Rules. Legislation of course impinges on registration and where it does our primary legislation is either amended or repealed.

Any land purchased for value which is unregistered must be registered within 6 months of the date of the deed as compulsory first registration applies to all counties in Ireland as and from the 1st June 2011.


[1] The act provides a statutory framework for  multi developments containing at least 5 residential units with shared amenities/service. The act makes provision for the timely transfer of common areas to the owner’s management company (made up of owners of the development) and other provisions regarding the contract between the developer and management company. The act also deals the management and operation of the common areas by the management company.